Gardens can be maddening. One year you get a whole bunch of beans, but the bugs get all your squash. The next year the squash might be thriving, but the squirrels carry off your tomatoes. There are the years you get too much of something to eat it all. And there are the years you don't seem to get much of anything at all.
Last year my garden was awful. It was a ton of work and barely produced anything. The squirrels discovered the tomatoes and ate every single one--or rather I should say they took a bite out of every single one. My squash just sat there looking infected with something. The raccoons knocked over all the corn, but the ears were super tiny anyway so whatevs. And for all that, I weeded and sweated. I was almost ready to give it all up. But--as so often happens with gardens--this spring gave me a funny little consolation prize. I'd planted a bunch of garlic the year before and harvested some, but before I could harvest the rest, I'd let it die back to the point where I no longer knew where it was. Then, this spring, up it popped--full, awesome, prolific, and ready for eating for absolutely no effort at all on my part. Nature can certainly be a harsh mistress, but that doesn't mean she can't be gracious when she wants to.
(yeah, I braided it cause I'm awesome)
Except, you know--what do you do with dozens of bulbs of garlic if you don't have a vampire problem in your neighborhood (which, to my knowledge, we don't)? Especially if you don't want to ward off your neighbors and friends (and, uh, spouse). Well, this Forty Clove Chicken is a great start.
You roast it for nearly an hour and a half, which takes all the edge off the garlic, while infusing the chicken with something deeply flavorful and rich. I actually ate the somewhat caramelized garlic on the side as a veggie (with no ill effect on my love life). And the chicken--I really just couldn't believe how the roasting had transformed it. I was concerned about the long roasting time--this is a cut up chicken--I was sure it was going to come out leathery and tough. Nope. Not in the slightest. Not even the small pieces of meat, like the wings and drumsticks. It was all tender, moist, and deeply flavorful without being offensive to vampires, or at least your loved ones. The other great thing was that I don't usually like my chicken with skin--mostly because the skin sucks up all the flavor and leaves the actual meat kind of boring. Not with this--the long cooking time and many garlic cloves just suffuse the meat with flavor. Seriously, it's awesome.
And even though the cooking time is a little long (especially for summer--sorry--we've had some really cool days), the prep time is about five minutes (I love you five-minute-prep-time). And even though you do need 40 cloves of garlic, you don't have to peel them (go on, do your happy dance). The peels come off during cooking or soften so significantly that they can be eaten.
Bonus: If you like garlic bread, you can press the cooked garlic into a paste, add to butter, and spread. I didn't; I just ate them. But garlic butter would be delicious.
Forty Clove Roast Chicken--One Pot
adapted from 365 Ways to Cook Chicken
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 90 minutes
butter/oil: .15, chicken: 10.00 (this is a humanely raised chicken--you could get for half as much if you buy a normal store chicken), garlic: 1.00, other: .05
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
40 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 C water
Preheat oven to 350.
In a Dutch oven, melt butter in oil. Add chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until golden. This takes about 10 minutes
Add garlic and stir to coat (mine were pretty crammed in there, but it got them all a bit of seasoning). Sprinkle with lemon juice, thyme, salt, pepper, and 1/4 C water.
Cover tightly and bake for 75-90 minutes (mine only took 75). Let rest for about 10 minutes after taking it out of the oven.